Update: On Aug. 10, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a portion of the district court’s ruling that held a particular of section of Iowa’s “ag-gag” statute, which makes it an offense to make a false statement when applying for employment at an agricultural facility, was overbroad and therefore violated the First Amendment. However, the court reversed a portion of the district court’s decision declaring unconstitutional a separate provision of the law, which provides that a person is guilty of agricultural production facility fraud if the person obtains access to the facility by false pretenses.
RCFP and a 22 other media organizations filed an amicus brief in the Eighth Circuit regarding the Iowa ag-gag statute, which criminalizes accessing an agriculture facility by false pretenses as well as making misrepresentations as part of an application for employment at an agricultural facility. The brief explains that the news media has a mutually reinforcing relationship with agricultural employees that allows the press to inform the public about issues of public health and safety. It also explains that the conspiracy provision of the ag-gag law creates a chilling effect by potentially imposing liability on journalists working with sources inside agricultural facilities.